Sleep restriction therapy is the best known treatment for insomnia. It’s not easy, and it will take weeks of dedication, but for those with severe insomnia, it might just be your ticket to dreamland. Even if you do not have severe insomnia, the tenets of sleep restriction therapy are interesting to explore
Here’s how it works: by decreasing the variability in your sleep hours you will increase the depth of your sleep. So say you go to bed at 10 PM one night, midnight another, and you have erratic wake-up hours. That’s a sleep no-no.
Sleep restriction will reset your internal clock and provide consolidated, deeper sleep. Ready? Let’s do this:
- Figure out how many hours of sleep you’ve been normally getting. A sleep log is critical for this. Log your sleep every night for a week, then divide the number of hours you’ve slept by 7. This number is the number of hours you’re allowed to stay in bed during sleep restriction.
- Set a time to wake up. This should be the exact same time every day.
- Work backwards from your sleep time and figure out the time you’re allowed to go to bed. If you’ve been sleeping an average of 6 hours a night, and your wake time is 6 AM, then you’ll be going to sleep at midnight. No cheating or going to be earlier: stick to the schedule.
- If this schedule works, keep it. If you’re exhausted, you can add 15 minutes of in-bed time per week.
- Morgenthaler, T., Kramer, M., Alessi, C., Friedman, L., Boehlecke, B., Brown, T., … American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2006). Practice parameters for the psychological and behavioral treatment of insomnia: an update. An american academy of sleep medicine report. Sleep, 29(11), 1415–1419.- Morin, C. M., Bootzin, R. R., Buysse, D. J., https://mayoclinic.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/practice-parameters-for-the-psychological-and-behavioral-treatmen
- Edinger, J. D., Espie, C. A., & Lichstein, K. L. (2006). Psychological And Behavioral Treatment Of Insomnia: Update Of The Recent Evidence (1998–2004). Sleep, 29(11), 1398–1414. doi: 10.1093/sleep/29.11.1398